Every week, our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: the best city tours in Dubrovnik.
It’s the jewel of a city on the edge of the Adriatic offering everything from cathedrals to cable cars and fortresses to film sets. Dubrovnik is also a top mini-break choice for autumn, thanks to blue skies, mild temperatures and plenty of good-value, direct flights.
Experts at the Croatian tourist office (croatia.hr) say that walking tours are the best way to discover Dubrovnik’s secrets and navigate its maze of narrow alleyways.
Dubrovnik is a jewel of a city on the edge of the Adriatic, and experts at the Croatian tourist office say that walking tours are the best way to discover its secrets
A great option for first-time visitors is Discover Dubrovnik, running twice daily at noon and 4.30pm in the autumn. Start point is the sixteen-sided Large Onofrio’s Fountain, one of the world’s best-disguised water cisterns.
You then pass the red-roofed buildings of the city’s gleaming, marble-paved main streets on a 90-minute exploration of Dubrovnik’s past. It’s a heady mix of art, earthquakes, invasions and Unesco-approved reconstructions.
Hear about everything from a Titian in the cathedral to city forts with drawbridges and 40ft-thick walls.
The Discover Dubrovnik tour offers a 90-minute exploration of the city’s past. Above are Dubrovnik’s imposing city walls
The Discover Dubrovnik tour starts at the sixteen-sided Large Onofrio’s Fountain, above, one of the world’s best-disguised water cisterns
Recent guests say that guides offer plenty of recommendations for places to eat and drink after the tour, including some cliff bars with views out to sea. Tour tickets cost £15 from guides or online. (dubrovnik-walking-tours.com)
Dubrovnik’s most recent claim to fame is as the setting for TV’s Game Of Thrones. Whole streets, palaces and city gates were reimagined as the fictional King’s Landing and were used as more than a dozen key filming locations, from the Red Keep to the Battle of Blackwater. Dozens of companies offer GoT-themed walking tours, but guides on the two-hour Dubrovnik Game Of Thrones Tour may well offer more inside information than others – as many of them worked as extras on the set.
Expect to be shown stills and screen shots as you see locations from the early scenes in series one right up to the show’s spectacular climax.
Dozens of companies offer Game of Thrones-themed walking tours, which take tourists to filming locations such as Rector’s Palace (pictured)
In autumn, the tour takes place twice a day at 11am and 4pm and also starts at Onofrio’s Fountain. Tickets cost £18. (dubrovnik-walking-tours.com)
The perfect late-afternoon tour for foodies comes from a family-run company created by two food- and history-loving sisters, with culinary input from their mother and grandmothers.
Their Dubrovnik On A Plate experience takes you through the heart of the old town, stopping at different cafes, restaurants, bars and food markets for tastings. The relaxed, three-hour tour ends at about 6pm, by which point many guests say they’ve eaten enough to skip dinner.
Dubrovnik On A Plate, a foodie walking tour, stops at different cafes, restaurants, bars and food markets in the heart of the old town
The sisters who run Dubrovnik On A Plate also lead a cooking class where you can learn to prepare dishes such as Dalmatian peka (above, file photo)
The sisters also offer a ‘Pick, Cook, Eat’ cooking class in the countryside. You’re driven to a family home surrounded by fields, welcomed with Croatian wine and asked to pick wild spices before preparing dishes such as Dalmatian peka (lamb or veal baked under an iron bell). Home-made breads and local desserts are also included.
Food tours cost from £95 each, cooking lessons from £125 (dubrovnikfoodstory.com).
Recent visitors also rave about a unique, early evening Singing Tour & Dubrovnik Old Town Walking Tour led by a guide who sings in local choirs and teaches traditional songs. Evenings start with a bottle of wine under the plane trees of a restaurant’s waterside terrace, where you’ll learn about the city’s history, churches, theatres and musical traditions. As you explore quiet streets and corners, you can hear your guide sing and are encouraged to join in a chorus.
The small-group private tour costs £150 for up to four guests (toursbylocals.com).